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You can find more information regarding this film on its IMDb page.
This movie is part of the collection: Feature Films
Director: James Cruze
Producer: Jonathan Cordish, James Cruze, Henry D. Meyer
Audio/Visual: sound, b&w
Creative Commons license: Public Domain
|Movie Files||MPEG2||Ogg Video||512Kb MPEG4|
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|Other Files||Archive BitTorrent|
Subject: I don't care what anybody(critics) thinks
I own this movie,and I think it's wonderful.Eric Von Stroheim isn't just a great director,he's a fine actor too.This movie stuck with me long after viewing it for the first time.I thought it was very moving.
Subject: Great Creeky Early sound movie
This is a very interesting early sound picture
The Version here at archive.org is however cut at 68 minutes (orginal 92 minute). The missing footage is mainly musical sequences (three songs I think).
Subject: A Sweet, Sad Tale of Lost Love
Ventriliquist Gabbo is abusive, arrogant, egotistical and universally disliked. He can only convey the sweet, caring elements of his personality through his dummy Otto. Long-suffering assistant Mary is the only person who cares for Gabbo. He drives her away, only to realize too late that without her, he has nothing. Erich von Stroheim and the rest of the cast act with naturalness and even subtlety on camera, and the sound is very good, all of which is unusual for such an early talkie. Betty Compson, a silent film-era veteran like von Stroheim, does a wonderful job conveying her character's sympathy and love for Gabbo. Otto may be the only ventriliquist's dummy I've ever seen that wasn't totally creepy. The big musical number, while hopelessly dated, is worth watching for the impressive acrobatics.
By the way, the print is NOT incomplete (runs about 110 minutes) but it is damaged.
Cultural trivia: the Great Gabbo makes an appearance on 1993 The Simpsons episode, "Krusty Gets Kancelled," only Gabbo there refers to the puppet, not the ventriliquist.
Subject: Not complete
Note that this version is incomplete. This copy shown here is 68 minutes long - the film is actually closer to 92 when complete.
Subject: What's to pan?
I think professional reviewers prefer pure & simple
musical movies, even though there was almost nothing
else on the screen just at the beginning of sound and the paying public, those fickle people, tired of that diet fast. The Gabbo character has his S.O.B. characteristic like a real world person, and there are reviewers who find ways to never actually like such portrayals. Give them Mickey & Minnie. Then of
course there is the German thing. If you understand the dialogue (not hard) it adds depth, but some resent it on G.P.
My one quibble is with the dance number, which no doubt aimed to look Graham, but came off hood ornament. Like the tossing of potato bags.
Still I give this one pretty high marks. The dance idea, as an idea was good, and the whole examination of transference in relationships was salutory. It is a simulation of what would be great ventriloquism. And it is the female lead's movie with an unexpected finish and a funny flourish.
Subject: Way ahead of its time (and still is)
The fact that this movie has a relatively low IMDb rating and continues to get panned by reviewers tells me that it is still far ahead of its time, 80 years later. But don't let that deter you from enjoying the magnificence of this work.
Let it be know that this is NOT a "musical", even though most movie databases list it as such. True, there are some fantastic singing & dancing numbers, but don't expect the customary flimsy, happy-go-lucky plot that is generally associated with musicals of the Gershwin era. No, this is a heavy, complex, ponderous piece of filmmaking. I would sooner group it with the Fritz Lang masterpiece "M" than any typical musical of the 30s. And I believe that this is why so many people were disappointed--plainly, it's not what they expected.
If, like me, you watch this movie without expecting it to be a musical, I believe you will be floored by its dramatic power. Erich von Stroheim puts on an astounding performace with excellent dialogue (or I should say 'monologue' since the best scenes are Gabbo talking to himself), and the leading lady Betty Compson also plays her part expertly.
It is rare that such an early film can portray life so realistically, without the customary melodrama and histrionics of the inchoate days of filmmaking. As for flaws... I didn't notice a single one except for an occasional jerky edit or sound glitch. Of course, the original theatrical release had several colour scenes which, sadly, have been lost forever. This is the b&w version, but it still carries the power and magnificence of a great film.
Subject: Interesting and entertaining but it could have been great
Three very talented and successful Hollywood people worked on this film. The director was James Cruze of "Covered Waggon" fame. The writer was Ben Hetch associated with many excellent films (Front Page.Underworld,etc). The lead actor,Von Stroheim of legendary achievments. The resulting film is a disappointment with only patches of brilliance.. However, with all its faults, it is a film that I will remember and consider a worthwhile viewing experience.